Calgary woman charged in son’s death called herself a failure, trial hears

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Tamara Lovett — who is accused of failing to provide the necessaries of life after treating her son’s fatal meningitis and strep infection with dandelion tea and oil of oregano — sobbed as she told police she was a failure, a Calgary courtroom heard Thursday.

Lovett’s comments were captured in a police interview video taken on the same day in March 2013 that her son, Ryan Alexander Lovett, died. At the time of his death, the seven-year-old had meningitis, pneumonia and a strep infection.

Lovett is charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life and criminal negligence causing death.

Court has heard Ryan was treated with homemade remedies like dandelion tea and oil of oregano, but wasn’t provided with proper medical treatment and ultimately died of massive organ failure.

Mother describes sick child

The video was shown in court on the fourth day of the Court of Queen’s Bench trial that is being presided over by Justice Kristine Eidsvik.

Crown lawyer Jonathan Hak called Staff Sgt. Shawn Goertzen as a witness. The Calgary police officer was with the child abuse unit at the time of Ryan’s death.

On the video, a distraught Lovett tells Goertzen: “I’m a failure.”

Lovett is crying as she describes the days leading up to her son’s death — he’d been in pain, with yellow eyes, swollen limbs, constipation, and had trouble walking.

One night Ryan was in the bathroom when she heard a “thunk” and discovered he’d fallen down. She had to help him to bed, she says.

Lovett tells Goertzen that she called 911 when she noticed Ryan’s speech was slurred.

When the officer asks her what she was sorry about, Lovett says she wished she’d driven her son directly to the hospital, instead of waiting for an ambulance.

“I should’ve just put him in the car, I should’ve just listened to my instinct, I should’ve just put him in the car and drove,” she said.

Lovett also tells the officer she shouldn’t have enrolled her seven-year-old in school because he may have picked up a bug there and the stress from school may have compounded his illness.

Looking at a photo of her son, Lovett sobs that he will never come back.

“I’m going to go home to a little bike and a little scooter and his room … He’s my baby and I’m just … I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I just don’t know.”

The video will be continued to be shown in court when the trial continues Friday.

A nurturing mother, friends say

Earlier in the day, friends of Lovett described her as a nurturing mother who made many sacrifices for the boy.

Frank Keller, who lived next to Lovett in the same apartment building, told the court he didn’t think Ryan was even sick, believing the boy was faking his symptoms in a bid to keep his mother closer to him.

He testified that Lovett couldn’t keep gainful employment because caring for Ryan always took priority over work.

Frank Keller

Frank Keller lived next to Tamara Lovett in the same apartment building and told the court he didn’t believe her son Ryan was actually sick. (Kate Adach/CBC)

“I was pissed off at Tamara for being over-nurturing and over-caring,” Keller said.

“Ryan, he never had anything. He never felt he had a home … his mother is the only thing he had. So it’s no surprise that he was clinging to her.”

Another witness, Harold Pendergast, said Ryan seemed depressed, which he assumed was because of bad experiences at school.

He described Lovett as a “devoted” and “diligent” single mother who did everything she could for her son.

Both witnesses said they knew Lovett preferred homeopathic and alternative therapies over science-based medicine but neither believed Ryan was so sick that he was dying.

On Tuesday, a medical expert testified that “a very simple penicillin” antibiotic could have cured Ryan’s strep infection.

“You could have prevented the death of this child,” said Dr. Taj Jadavji, who authored a report for trial using medical and autopsy reports, as well as witness statements from police and paramedics.

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Calgary woman charged in son’s death called herself a failure, trial hears

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